General Motors plans to roll out a robo-taxi service next year that will let urbanites hail a driverless Chevrolet Bolt. Ford is overhauling a dilapidated Detroit train station to become a tech hub aimed at attracting software superstars. Daimler wants to merge one of its divisions with archrival BMW to create a juggernaut for services like ride hailing and car sharing.
And Toyota says it’s evolving into an entirely different company, one that focuses more on services that move people around. “It’s a matter of surviving or dying,” says Chief Executive Akio Toyoda.
The global auto industry thinks it sees the future, and it will require a transformation without precedent in business history: The giant industrial sector has to turn itself into a nimble provider of software and services.
This week brought yet another signal of the forces it’s up against: Uber Technologies Inc., which has chalked up about $4.8 billion in operating losses over the last six quarters, is laying plans for an initial public offering that bankers think could value it at $120 billion. That’s more than General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. F -0.54% and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV combined.
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